Thursday, November 02, 2006

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
I took stock and realized I'd been eating too much meat lately. With a cupboard filled with whole food alternatives, I opted for a couple of meat-free days. But making a decision wasn't easy. Barley, quinoa, lentils, black beans, red beans, which would it be? As I tried to decide, I thought of all my non-cooking friends and opted for a tasty, nutritious dish that could be made by the most faint hearted.
Black Beans and Rice!
Here's the good news, you can use canned black beans, canned chicken broth and for the aromatics, add a can of every cook's secret weapon -- Rotel tomatoes and chilies. Use the Mexican variety with onions, garlic, oregano, hot chilies, etc. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that you can cook up a little rice. But, just in case, here's a quick rundown on cooking rice.
Wash the amount of rice you need, based on how many you're serving, in a strainer under cold running water, let drain. In medium saucepan heat one tablespoon of olive oil over high heat, add rice and stir to coat, add enough cold water to cover rice by about one inch, add salt and bring to a rapid boil, stir again, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 17 minutes or until all water has evaporated. Turn off heat, leave on burner covered for another 5 minutes. Presto, fluffy rice!
Meanwhile, if you are using canned beans, rinse them thoroughly in a strainer. With canned beans there's no heavenly pot liquor, so add one can of chicken broth for every can of beans, and one can of Rotel Mexican tomatoes. Serve over cooked rice in a deep soup bowl.
If you cook your own beans, pre-soaking for at least 4 hours will speed up the cooking process. As with cooking all beans, do not add salt to the initial cooking. I boiled mine for about an hour and a half and then cooked them with a couple of cloves of minced garlic and a diced onion for another hour or so, then added about a cup of boiling water and a can of Rotel Mexican tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. A word of caution: these are spicy hot with the chilies - delicious.
Pizza Fills the Bill

Browsing through the current King Arthur Flour catalog, I ran across a recipe for "Light-as-Air" Pizza. The ingredients were the same as I usually use to make pizza crust with the addition of one teaspoon of baking powder in addition to the yeast. I couldn't wait to try it. They weren't kidding. This crust is crispy on the bottom and the crumb is light and airy not heavy and dense. The pie pictured above has a little too much end crust for my taste. Next time I'll roll it out larger and thinner or make two small pies to eliminate those big 'handles'. But despite the abundance of crust, it was delicious.

The topping is simply a can of Muir Glen Fire-Roasted diced tomatoes,reduced and minced garlic and shallot, salt and pepper. After cooking down, I gave it a few swipes with the immersion blender and then spooned it into a strainer and let some of the liquid drain off before topping the crust. I spread a few drops of EVOO over the crust before adding the tomatoes. I sliced mozzarella thinly instead of grating it and then when the pie came out of the 500° oven, I spread on freshly grated Regianno and a chiffonade of fresh basil and added another drizzle of high quality extra virgin olive oil. Believe me, you won't miss the meat with this one!



Stuart Woods - Short Straw

Philip Margolin - Sleeping Beauty

Till next time . . . keep on cooking!

1 comment:

Stephanie Beack said...

Black beans and rice, a true staple. I've gotten in the habit of infusing my rice water these days with various aromatics and spices, it really makes a big difference! Great site, Joyce. Indeed, keep on cooking!